April 2017

Techniques: You Got Rhythm

“Getting” jazz’s core rhythms.

National Standards: 1-3, 5-7, 9

Prepare: Have the class read Techniques: You Got Rhythm (page 26 of the student edition). The article provides examples of some common rhythms found in jazz.

Here’s a playlist of audio samples illustrating the examples from the article. Example 1 is not included as the “swing feel” it illustrates can be heard in examples 2-4.

NotionappClick here to download the files for audio playback in the Notion app.
Key points in the article:

  • As a core rhythm to jazz, the swing feel can be written out in repeated eighth-note triplets, with each triplet containing a quarter note followed by an eighth note.
  • The standard swing drumming pattern features a quarter note followed by two swung eighth notes played on the ride. It’s often accompanied by walking bass and block chords on the piano.
  • Some other rhythms found in jazz include the Latin clave and bossa nova rhythms.
  • Another jazz rhythm, funk is less swung but has a strong, syncopated groove.

Begin: Try some of the techniques with the class, noting the tips described in each example. Lessons might include:

  • Playing examples 1-3 for the class on the piano and drums
  • Having a group read the rhythms in example 5
  • Playing the melodic parts in examples 4, 5, and 7 on the piano

Develop: Play the following video of the Count Basie Orchestra performing “One O’Clock Jump”:

How do the techniques in the music relate to the article?

  • The drummer is playing a swing rhythm on the hi-hat
  • The bassist is “walking”
  • The band is playing swing rhythms, or in other words, they’re swinging!

Expand: Play the following video of Herbie Hancock performing “Chameleon” with his group in 1988:

Following along with example 7, have the class play or tap out the notated rhythms along with the music.